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Two Rivers plans public hearing about years-long debate whether to allow ATVs and UTVs on city streets

Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 19:15:34-04

TWO RIVERS, Wis. (NBC 26) — A new form of transportation on Two Rivers city streets could soon be allowed. And just about everyone has an opinion.

"I would definitely allow the ATVs and UTVs on the streets," former city council member David VanGinkel said.

"The City of Two Rivers is not an appropriate place to allow ATV and UTV usage on city streets," Chief of Police Brian Kohlmeier said.

That debate will soon head to the Two Rivers City Council. There's a hearing Monday to get input from the public.

The city staff's recommendation is to keep the current policy.

"The formal feedback via emails to our city clerk, shared with the city council, is running heavily opposed to the proposal," City Manager Greg Buckley said.

The police chief says there is a safety concern.

"The kind of atmosphere that we feel our citizens want... it's not a place for the ATV and UTVs," Kohlmeier said.

He says traditional motor vehicles laws are different, and due to city statute...

"The rules regarding OWI, and open intoxicants, and driver's licenses, and registration, and insurance and all those things... we cannot regulate those more strictly or further," Kohlmeier said.

VanGinkel, also the owner of Two Rivers Clothing Co., says since the city allows golf carts, it should allow UTVs and ATVs.

"Golf carts don't have roll cages," he said. "They're not designed to crash. They don't have seat belts, whereas a UTV has all of the above."

VanGinkel doesn't even own one himself.

"We have the best beach in Wisconsin," he said. "How cool to have buggies and things of that nature down at the beach."

Next week, he and other supporters will get a chance to tell that to the council.

"Hopefully this, for a period of time, at least brings this issue to a head with some determination as to what the council's direction is," Buckley said.

The number of UTVs registered in Wisconsin has exploded. According to the DNR in 2013, there were less than 17,000 UTVs registered in the state. By 2015, that number had more than doubled, topping 37,000.

By 2017, there were over 60,000 registered in the state. By 2019, over 90,000 UTVs registered in Wisconsin.